No matter how much growth you’ve driven for a client in recent months, and no matter how clever a strategy you have planned to accelerate that growth in the year to come, QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) almost always bring on a layer of stress.
Effective QBRs come down to communication and structure. Anticipating the questions clients will have and answering them proactively and transparently will help you show a) the true results and value of your work; b) alignment with the client’s goals and needs. These are table stakes for a good QBR; if you want to up-level your QBRs to great, make sure to look forward and lay out proposed strategies to supplement the “review” look-back with a focus on future growth.
Here are some questions we anticipate as part of our QBRs – and how we answer them.
What goals are we striving to hit?
These generally boil down to KPIs (numbers and data) and can also include yes/no goals (e.g. did we or didn’t we achieve an initiative like launching a site or conducting a test?).
The keys here: make sure to include target goals for the future (if you don’t have any from the client, recommend some), and follow any statement about data with an explanation about the business significance for the brand.
For example: “We lowered overall CPA by 20%, which allowed you to bring in your target lead quantity while conserving significant budget.”
How do we plan to meet or exceed goals in the following quarters?
For this question, you should prepare a look-forward strategy to reach future goals (again, if a client hasn’t provided any, recommend some).
The key for this is to be specific about which pieces of your strategy will address which goals/KPIs – and tie the strategy, where relevant, to any learnings from the past quarter.
For example: “We recommend testing Facebook lead gen ads for audiences X and Y. Last quarter showed that we could pull quality leads into your CRM for more efficient costs than on Google and LinkedIn. We project that this could lower CPA by X% and allow you to build a retargeting pool more quickly than in previous quarters.”
What progress have we made?
While clients should be most invested in hearing about your plans to help them continue to grow, QBRs are perfect occasions to remind them of the work you’ve already done on their behalf – and, critically, the business outcomes that work has achieved.
Lead with KPIs that you know matter most to the client; be clear about where you started the quarter and how your results compared to the previous quarter and previous year. Make sure to tie specific activities, initiatives, and strategies to the results you drove, and include macro/external context (e.g. macroeconomic turbulence) where relevant.
Our last best practice is to end with a closing slide of past highlights and main strategic objectives for the coming quarter and year. Leave plenty of room for discussion (whether during the QBR or at the end), and make sure to align on next steps for both you and your client before you part ways.
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